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To Knit a World

Photo credit: Brandi Simons

 

She knits clouds with drops of rain, rats infested cities, tiny bats and a zillion of other objects that are cute in a weird way. Meet Anna Hrachovec, an American knitter and artist.

 

How long you have been an artist?
I've been making knitted art for about four years. 

 
What made you knit, and what made you knit other things than just
scarves and other usual things?

I began knitting as a hobby in college as a way to relax when I wasn't studying. I continued knitting after college, and I had been making the usual stuff - scarves and hats and sweaters - for about five years when I gradually got a little bored of making wearable things. I still loved knitting, but I was looking for something different that I could make as gifts for my friends. At that time, I had recently moved to New York, and through my job at a gallery I was seeing a lot of exciting art, including plush art. It occurred to me that I could probably use knitting to make some fun characters, so I gave it a try! My first toys went to some of my (adult) friends as gifts, and I have been obsessed with knitting toys since then. 

Your objects seem to draw from the aesthetics of comic culture, and
probably the japanese art of amigurumi, is that so?

I'm very much influenced by Japanese character design. I love the simple "kawaii" look of characters like Hello Kitty, and I also admire the way that in Japan cute characters aren't just for kids, but for adults too. As for amigurumi, I definitely saw a bit of it around the time that I began knitting toys, but I didn't try to copy any amigurumi styles in particular. I don't have much experience with crochet (which is the technique used with most amigurumi), so I just set out to do my own thing with knitting. 

How did you get in touch with galleries that exhibit your art?

I had a very good relationship with gallery hanahou from the outset, because that is where I have been working for the past 5 years! I started out as a full-time employee, and since I began Mochimochi Land, it's become more and more part time. I've also participated in the "Plush You" shows on the west coast - those were open submission, so I just had to send photos of my work. I'm hoping to exhibit in some different spaces in the future too. 

You sell patterns for your objects too, are there many people who are
into knitting these?

Happily, yes! Creating patterns is what keeps me busy most of the time. I think I started designing toys at just the right time, when many knitters were getting digital and a big online community of knitters was forming. Many crafters these days are searching for patterns online and are supporting independent designers like me by buying PDF patterns. 

 

Is it fun to see what other people have made according to those patterns?

It is so much fun. Really, the best thing about what I do is seeing a toy that I designed made in the hands of someone else. I've even been holding an annual photo contest of toys that people have made from my patterns - it's amazing the creative entries that I get every year. 

 

Your objects have been exhibited in the hanahou gallery. any other
exhibitions coming up?

In August I'll have one or more pieces on exhibit in the Lion Brand Yarn Studio gallery in New York. I'm knitting tons of tiny little brightly colored characters for it, and a bit later on I'm going to plan out how they will be shown - probably all sewn together in a big colorful mass of bodies. I'm really excited about it. 

You have a book out, how do you feel about it and do you plan for more books?

It was a great experience to write a book of patterns, and I loved the way it turned out. Since I'm so used to blogging every day and sharing all my new projects, it was a little difficult to keep the projects under wraps for an entire year, but the wait was worth it.  I'm excited to say that my second book of patterns will be published in the summer of this year - it's going to be titled Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi. 

Is this art a full time job for you now, or do you keep a day job?

I'm still working part time, but I'm happy to say that designing and working on knitting art projects are taking up most of my time these days. It's like a dream to be able to devote so much time to doing what I'm really passionate about. I don't know what I'll be doing exactly a year from now, which is a little scary, but exciting! 

Do you collaborate with other people?

I haven't really done any collaborations yet, but I would love to, with all kinds of artists. One of my friends is a talented jewelry designer, and we've been talking about a collaboration for a while now. Maybe this year we'll make that happen.

Any advice for people who want to break through with something as
unique as your knitter, um, "toys"?

I think it's important to allow yourself to experiment a lot, both with whatever it is that you're doing, and also with how you share it with people. Sharing a bit your process online along with the finished result also makes people care more about what you're doing. And blogging on a regular basis has really helped me connect with a community who are interested in what I do. 

 

Website of the artist: http://mochimochiland.com/

 

Photo credits: Brandi Simons, Helene Park and David Rasura.


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